With "Dunces" On Hold, Director Green Moves to "The Undertow"

While the champagne may have been flowing freely at Miramax earlier this week as three of its films earned multiple nominations at the Academy Awards, the news was not so good for the studio’s upcoming “The Confederacy of Dunces.”

According to sources close to the production, the decision was made to push back shooting for six months to the fall. Having languished in the development phase for more than 20 years, six months seems hardly like a long wait to those that have eagerly anticipated this film being realized onscreen- in addition, it gives the director attached to the project, David Gordon Green, time to lense a film based on a script he had written with Joe Conway.

Often said to be reminiscent of legendary filmmaker Terrence Malick, the British Film Institute praised Green’s first film, 2000’s George Washington, for its “luxuriant use of slow motion, subtle magic-hour colour scheme and unhurried, hypnotic pace more readily bring to mind [Malick’s work] Days of Heaven.” Through that effort he came into contact with Malick, who sent him a one-line note of praise via e-mail.

Malick and Green now get a chance to work together, with Malick one of the three producers backing “The Undertow.” The film, which focuses on a young man raised in a backwoods town who runs away with his little brother after his uncle shoots his father, originally had a start date of November 2002 and Jamie Bell (best know for his turn in “Billy Elliot”) attached to star as Chris Munn.

In other news for “The Undertow,” casting calls have recently gone out for the central roles of Tim Munn and Violet. The younger Munn, described as “a skinny boy who is constantly sick,” has a distinctive look that reveals “his impoverished background.” Violet, meanwhile, looks to be a more dynamic character, a “prostitute in her early 20s who is driven to desperation by drugs and booze. Abused by her brother, her face is cut and bleeding. She is naturally attractive, but street life has made her harsh and she has the vacant look of someone who has few options left. She is suicidal and physically on her last legs. In spite of her serious problems she is still very much a human being who wants to connect and be loved by others.”

ContentFilm, which has flourished in the world of independent motion pictures having gained amazing praise for “The Cooler” and “The Party Monster” at Sundance, will be the production company behind the film. Quickly becoming a leading producer of digital feature film entertainment, the indie has confirmed that lensing for “The Undertow” will begin in early April in Savannah, GA.

Sources close to “Dunces,” meanwhile, maintain that the shooting will begin in approximately six months in New Orleans, and, at this point, no star is yet attached to the role of Ignatius J. Reilly. A release date has not yet officially been targeted, although a fourth quarter release in 2004 has been mentioned as likely.

The Scorecard
Director: David Gordon Green
Producers: Ed Pressman, Terrence Malick, Lisa Muskat
Screenwriters: Joe Conway and David Gordon Green
Casting Director: Mali Finn
Start Date: April 7, 2003
Location: Savannah, GA
Production Company: ContentFilm